Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1954. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by John Patrick, based on a novel by John H. Secondari. Cinematography by Milton R. Krasner. Produced by Sol C. Siegel. Music by Victor Young. Production Design by John DeCuir, Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by William Reynolds. Academy Awards 1954.
Maggie McNamara comes to Rome to work as a secretary at the United States Distribution Agency (whatever that is) and becomes friends with two women doing similar work, one a jaded Jean Peters who has lied and said she is engaged in order to go home, and the other a past-her-prime Dorothy McGuire who has been working as secretary for Clifton Webb for ten years and is madly in love with him. McNamara eventually catches the eye of a handsome Italian prince (Louis Jourdan) while Peters romances Rossano Brazzi and drama flares up for all three, mostly watching them cry into handkerchiefs between driving or walking amid gorgeous scenery. The first film shot in CinemaScope outside the United States rightly earned its Academy Award for cinematography and is still a stunner to look at, but the plot (basically a miserable version of How To Marry A Millionaire) barely passes muster today (and I can’t see how it did back then either). Cramming three love stories into less than two hours means there is little development in their situations before hasty endings that do not resolve with much satisfaction, and treating a woman as beautiful as McGuire as “old” and thinking she could ever find affection for Webb and his bad toupee is just laughable.